Being self-published, and trying to see your creation become successful, can be a daunting task – especially if you have no one to counsel you. I’ve written several books and have close to a hundred book signings under my belt. The result is a traditional publisher signed me to a multi-book contract, and these books are carried by Barnes and Noble and several other chains now. In addition, my first book is now under consideration by a film company. That’s the good news.
The bad news is it required some very hard work. But, if you want to make your writing a success, and you’re willing to work hard, here are some valuable tips.
I began book signing not knowing a thing. Approaching a Barnes and Noble manager, I asked if I could do a book signing. He agreed, and I held it on a Saturday. I was off and running as an author. I was very familiar with the need of promotion in any selling effort.
Now, when I go to a store, I bring all sorts of carefully assembled stuff which will make my presence at the book store a ‘happening.’
1. Life size stand-up of me holding my book which I had made. It was WELL worth the cost. This I place outside the store at the entrance.
2. Four or five 2×3 foot posters of my book inside the store, which lead the customer to my book signing station.
3. One 5-foot folding table. This displays lots of my books carefully stacked along with some stand-up stands. Flanking my table are store-owned paperback displays of my books. These I begged from bookstores when they were done with them, then repurposed for my books with my own posters and spray paint.
The entire appearance of my table is very professional, and looks like I’m a big deal even though no one has heard of me except me and, I assume, my mom. In addition, I make sure my signing table is in the main traffic lane of arriving customers. I’ve had book stores try to put me in the rear of the store, or by the cash registers, or in the sci-fi section. NO. I want to be the first thing they see when coming in the store.
4. Public Address System announcements made every half hour. I carefully developed an announcement which is about half page long. I make sure half EVERY hour I go to the store PA and make the announcement. Some of the language I use: “the store is thrilled to host the author of the book. . .” and “Don’t miss this chance to get a personally autographed book of this outstanding book.” Don’t be modest. Your book is OUTSTANDING, THRILLING, CRITICS PRAISE and whatever you can think of to hype the book and yourself.
5. Print handouts – this is the most important, effective thing you can do. That’s why, when picking a store, try to be assured of a steady number of people coming to the store. I need traffic to sell. Generally Barnes and Noble is a good bet. The handouts have a picture of me, my book, and some customer comments about the book, along with a very short synopsis of the story.
6. Many stores expect you will be there just one day. I set up a schedule, which the stores didn’t mind. Thursday through Saturday – I am there
7. Customer e-mail addresses are important. Get ’em! You need to contact these people when you write your second book – and you WILL write a second book. Now, people don’t like to give out their e-mail address for obvious reasons. So I needed to come up with something that would turn that around. I then began asking people who bought my book, “Would you like to take a picture together that you can paste inside the cover?” Today everyone has their cell phone, and can take their own pictures. So, I ask THEM if, after having the picture taken, they would send a copy to ME. Of course, when I receive the photo, I then have their email as the return address, and can ask them if they want to be on my mailing list.
These are some of the guidelines I use to boost my sales, and make doing book signings worthwhile. After all, besides the grueling hours, there is the expense of gas, lodging and food. So, is it worth it?
I’ve been to many Barnes and Noble, Hastings, Books-A-Million, Air Force and Army installations.
I sold thousands of books, got a contract from a new publisher, and interest from a film company. But, it was all started by a dummy not knowin’ nothin’ – but willing to work his tail off because he believed in what he had done. Do you?
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William “Bill” Creed has written a number of books including Comes The End, which won a national Illumination Book Award. Bill lives in Romeo, Michigan with his wife, Sharon. Together, they have five children and three spoiled dogs. His wife is a nurse at a local hospital, and has been her husband’s chief supporter and fan.
7.625 STRATEGIES IN EVERY BEST-SELLER - Revised and Expanded Edition
At this moment, thousands of would-be authors are slaving away on their keyboards, dreaming of literary success. But their efforts won’t count for much. Of all those manuscripts, trade book editors will sign up only a slim fraction.
And of those titles--ones that that editors paid thousands of dollars to contract, print and publicize--an unhealthy percentage never sell enough copies to earn back their advances. Two years later, most will be out of print!
Acquisition Editor Tam Mossman shares seven essentials every book needs to stay in print, and sell!
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